Letters News St Vincent and the Grenadines

Letter: Fake news about Argyle International Airport

Letter: Modern day Lotus-eaters - Caribbean News Now

Pricey Sir:

“I’m positive that the operation of the AIA [Argyle International Airport] will show the politically jaundiced doomsayers incorrect once more” (Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, Prime Minister, St, Vincent and the Grenadines [SVG]February 6, 2017).


“ONE OF probably the most exceptional developments on this nation’s historical past has been the development of the Argyle Worldwide Airport…. [which has] … seen the rise of tourists to our nation even with out new motels being accomplished” (Searchlight newspaper editorial, January 22, 2019).


The start of the third yr of the operation of AIA on Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2019, is an effective time to ask whether or not the power is starting to comprehend its mainland tourism potential as expressed within the well-known August eight, 2005 speech made by Dr. Ralph E. Gonsalves:

“Our nation’s tourism potential wouldn’t be absolutely realised until we construct a world airport. And tourism is more likely to be our important overseas trade earner for a very long time to return.”

To date, none of this potential, absolutely or in any other case, has been realized. It’s because AIA has definitely not “… seen the rise of tourists to our nation…” baselessly claimed by the editor of the Searchlight newspaper.

Stopover guests in 2017, the yr AIA started operation, noticed a three.5 % decline from 2016: 78,751 to 75,972. Even when the January-October 2018 improve

of four.2 % from the identical interval in 2017 (Searchlight newspaper, December 21, 2108) was sustained for the remainder of final yr, this is able to characterize each a tiny 1.zero % improve because the airport first opened and a whopping 19 % under the report 97,432 stop-over guests in 2006, 11 years earlier than the opening of AIA.

This decline is rooted within the elementary proven fact that the overriding perform of passenger airports is to facilitate the transport of individuals from one place to a different; by themselves, such amenities not often set off a surge in vacationer curiosity.

This explains why AIA has attracted solely three frequently scheduled worldwide airways servicing the airport on a restricted foundation with their smallest lengthy vary plane: the mainland of SVG, as lovely as it’s, doesn’t have the points of interest, notably miles of pristine white sand seashores fronting shallow aquamarine waters, to make it a well-liked or interesting mass tourism vacation spot, options of nature that might by no means change.

In help of those assertions, the info in Desk 1 under current extremely optimistic estimates on the variety of flights and several types of passengers that may land at AIA in 2019.

LIAT continues to be by far our hottest service with eight day by day flights from Barbados, St. Lucia, and Trinidad, six of them continuous, carrying as much as 68 passengers on six flights and as much as 48 passengers on two flights.

Air Canada out of Toronto now has twice weekly service to SVG for a part of the yr on plane carrying 136 passengers; Caribbean Airways, servicing AIA from New York as soon as every week, with further flights through the Carnival season, has a fleet carrying a most of 154 passengers; The brand new weekly American Airways service from Miami lands on planes carrying as much as 128 passengers.

Constitution carriers like Dynamic and EasySky which flew to SVG starting in 2017 at the moment are a fading reminiscence, simply because the doomsayers predicted. Sunwing, which noticed 15 half-empty flights to SVG from Toronto in 2018, has additionally disappeared from the radar.

All the projected figures in Desk 1 are based mostly on unquestionably constructive estimates rooted in previous numbers in order to preclude criticism that they have been intentionally lowballed to manufacture a doomsayer image of AIA.

Heading into AIA’s third yr, CEO of the SVG Tourism Authority, Glen Beache, has a public obligation to problem these figures, as optimistic as they’re, if he once more believes they’re incorrect, as he opined about these in an analogous opinion piece final yr, by supplying the right ones. In any other case, readers might assume that silence means assent.

Desk 1. Projected 2019 Worldwide Arrivals at AIA

Airline Flights Capability Load Guests SVG  Vacationers Mainland Vacationers
LIAT (1) 2,920 183,960 147,168 (2) ~72,000 14,400 (three) 7,200 (four)
Air Canada 73 9,928 eight,935 (5) ~four,400 1,458 (7)    729 (four)
Caribbean Airways 60 9,240 6,006 (6) ~three,100 1,496 (7)    748(four)
American Airways 52 6,656 5,990 (5) ~three,000 1,zero20 (7)    510 (four)
TOTAL three,105 209,784 168,099  ~82,500 18,374  9,187
% LIAT 94.zero 87.7 87.6 87.four 78.four  78.four

(1) https://www.liat.com/index.html; https://www.anna.aero/2018/05/25/liat- capacity-decline-barbados-leading-airport-service-st-vincent-top-ranked-route/; (2) 80 % annual load issue; (three) 20 % vacationer issue; (four) 50 % vacationer load; (5) 90 % annual load issue; (6) 65 % annual load issue; (7) 34 % vacationer issue.

The estimated 2019 annual “load” numbers in column four in Desk 1 – the precise variety of seats more likely to be occupied are: (1) an inexpensive 80 % for LIAT (based mostly on its main regional place within the airline’s seats crammed), (2) an equally real looking 90 % for the Air Canada flights out of Toronto, and (three) a considerably inflated 65 % for the Caribbean Airways flights from New York Metropolis.

The 2 latter connections are based mostly on figures lately given within the Home of Meeting by Cecil McKie whereas all numbers given in Desk 1 seek advice from complete arriving airline passengers, whether or not guests or everlasting residents, the latter being primarily native-born Vincentians returning residence from an abroad journey.

Based mostly on the 77,457 complete customer air arrivals in 2017 and the projected rise in 2018, and optimistically assuming the identical four.2 % rise for 2019, it’s attainable that about 82,500 true guests, specifically individuals who have everlasting residence outdoors SVG and are touring to the nation on vacation or for another cause, will land at AIA in 2019. These passengers would symbolize some 49.1 % of the 168,099 estimated 2019 landed passengers (“load”).

So far as LIAT is worried and based mostly on figures from earlier years, at the least 80 % of the deplaning passengers can be native-born or second-generation Vincentians. The remaining, about 14,400 individuals, can be primarily overseas vacationers.

As for the roughly 10,500 continuous passengers from mainland North America (column 5) it’s generously assumed that solely two-thirds of them can be Vincentian nationals. Of the remaining one-third, or three,570 guests, virtually all can be foreign-born individuals coming to SVG for a vacation.

Of the 18,374 complete overseas vacationers (column 6), it’s once more intentionally overestimated that half would keep on the mainland moderately than being in transit to their last vacation vacation spot within the Grenadines, the situation of our largest and greatest lodge inventory, on small commuter planes operated by SVG Air and Mustique Airways or by ferry from Kingstown to hitch the multitude of airborne guests who reached the cays from different locations, each regional and worldwide.

Probably the most optimistic assumption of all is that of the 1,987 non-LIAT mainland vacationers (column 7), half would have declined to vacation on St. Vincent Island save for the alleged “comfort” of flying continuous from Toronto, New York, or Miami. This interprets into lower than 1,000 further overseas vacationers, a pitiful 1.2 % of the 82,500 guests anticipated to land in 2019.

With figures like this, how can the Unity Labour Social gathering probably declare that, “The tourism sector is booming…” (The Vincentian newspaper, January 25, 2019, p. 10)?

Clearly, these knowledge present that AIA was constructed for causes aside from attracting worldwide holidayers to our mainland, specifically to remedy our “airport envy nervousness dysfunction” (see additionally “Shifting the goalposts at Argyle airport”) whereas making certain Unity Labour Get together victory within the final three nationwide elections.

Clearly additionally, heading into AIA’s third yr, Cecil McKie’s prediction of a tripling of vacationer and different guests – 299 % under the precise anticipated degree — has confirmed to be nonsensical political propaganda.

Likewise for the pretend information declare in a January four, 2019 Searchlight newspaper editorial that:

“It’s now established past a doubt that our lengthy travails in constructing Argyle Worldwide Airport have been value it. We now have speedy and powerful connections between St Vincent and North America, our principal supply of vacationers” (emphasis added).

Past a doubt, “speedy” and “robust” will not be the identical factor: as Desk 1 exhibits, of mainland vacationers and different guests, 87.four % would proceed to reach from Barbados, St. Lucia, and Trinidad in 2019 “slowly” and “weakly” utilizing our previous workhorse LIAT. If SVG Air, Mustique Airways, and different carriers have been factored on this determine would strategy 90 %.

All these projected numbers are opposite to the convenience-enhancing central premise underlying the development of AIA given by Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves and the misleading message in his 2018 Christmas greeting that:

“… [W]e are completely satisfied to see so many guests and nationals abroad coming direct to St. Vincent and the Grenadines, by air, from Toronto, New York, and Miami by way of the worldwide airport at Argyle” (emphasis added).

A more true message is that AIA must be re-christened “LIAT Worldwide Airport” provided that previous trustworthy’s continued dominance of our tiny and sluggish journey market. Within the battle between David and Goliath within the airline wars, David continues to be reigning champion for “so many guests.”

Typically the doomsayers, politically jaundiced or not, are right.


That is the 75th in a collection of essays on the AIA folly. My different AIA essays are listed under:

  1. Prepare for a November election in St Vincent and the Grenadines! However which November?
  2. Classes for Argyle Worldwide Airport from Canada’s Montreal-Mirabel Worldwide Airport
  3. Classes for Argyle Worldwide Airport from the cruise ship business
  4. Classes from Goal Canada for Argyle Worldwide Airport in St Vincent
  5. Classes from Trinidad and Tobago for Argyle Worldwide Airport
  6. The darkish aspect of tourism: Classes for Argyle Airport
  7. Why Argyle gained’t fly: Classes from Dominica
  8. Ken Boyea and the Phantom Metropolis at Arnos Vale
  9. Airport envy Vincie-style
  10. Absolutely realising our nation’s tourism potential
  11. Airport and not using a trigger
  12. The unnatural place for a world airport
  13. The Potemkin Folly at Argyle
  14. False patriotism and deceitful guarantees at Argyle
  15. Airport politics and betrayal Vincie-style
  16. Phony airport completion election guarantees, Vincie-style
  17. Is Argyle Worldwide Airport actually a ‘big game-changer for us’?
  18. Has the cat acquired your tongue, prime minister?
  19. Extra proof that Argyle gained’t fly
  20. Our very personal Vincentian cargo cult at Argyle
  21. The lacking Argyle Airport feasibility research
  22. The world’s 4 most superb deserted airports
  23. Farming, fishing, and silly speak about Argyle Worldwide Airport
  24. Argyle Airport newbie hour
  25. St Vincent’s place on the earth of journey
  26. Investing in St Vincent’s tourism business
  27. The Argyle Airport Prophecy: What the numbers say
  28. Did the IMF drink the Comrade’s Kool-Help?
  29. Why Qatar? Why St Vincent and the Grenadines?
  30. Silly phrases about Argyle Worldwide Airport
  31. ‘If I come, you’ll construct it’: Classes from the Maldives for Argyle Worldwide Airport
  32. Metropolis classes for Argyle Worldwide Airport
  33. Who actually lands at Arnos Vale?
  34. No ticky, no washy – Argyle-style
  35. We have now met the Vincentian tourism enemy and he’s us
  36. Lodge St Vincent 
  37. Why St Vincent Island has so few vacationers
  38. Why Bequia is a gem of the Antilles
  39. Why seeing is believing within the Caribbean tourism business
  40. St Vincent’s cruise ship numbers are a lot decrease than we expect
  41. Classes from Barbados for Argyle Airport
  42. Cuba’s tourism rollercoaster: Classes for Argyle Airport
  43. What the world teaches Black Sands Resort and Villas
  44. Not all Argyle airport critics are ‘web crazies’
  45. Why Roraima Airways? Classes for Argyle airport
  46. The print media’s tackle the opening of Argyle Worldwide Airport
  47. Our Argyle Worldwide Airport ‘veritable miracle’
  48. The Argyle airport ‘poppy present’ opening
  49. St Vincent’s 2016 tourism numbers are nothing to brag about
  50. Going ahead or moonwalking? Classes for Argyle Worldwide Airport
  51. The seen hand of Adam Smith at Argyle Worldwide Airport
  52. St Vincent Island doesn’t want any extra lodge rooms
  53. Classes from St Lucia and Grenada for Argyle Worldwide Airport
  54. Is Air Canada additionally a ‘large game-changer’ for Argyle Worldwide Airport?
  55. St Vincent’s mainland vacationer points of interest
  56. How St Vincent’s vacationer points of interest stack up: Classes for Argyle Airport
  57. Classes from Guyana for Argyle Worldwide Airport
  58. The world’s greatest vacationer islands: Classes for Argyle Worldwide Airport
  59. Explaining Argyle airport on St Vincent Island
  60. Explaining Argyle airport: A conflict of axioms
  61. Questions and solutions concerning the Argyle airport puzzle
  62. Extra questions and solutions concerning the Argyle airport puzzle
  63. Explaining Argyle airport: Concluding remarks
  64. A “loaded query” logical fallacy: Argyle airport’s legacy
  65. Argyle airport’s alternative prices
  66. What cruise ship visits reveal about St Vincent’s vacationer business
  67. How welcome are Air Canada and Sunwing Airways?
  68. Neither Glad Valentine’s Day nor “an enormous recreation changer for us” at Argyle airport
  69. Why is Argyle airport not taking off?
  70. Are American Airways flights from Miami to St Vincent yet one more recreation changer?
  71. The painful way forward for nonstop worldwide journey to Argyle airport
  72. Prepare for an additional tourism folly at Mt. Wynne, St. Vincent
  73. Shifting the goalposts at Argyle airport
  74. Phony rationales for the development of Argyle Worldwide Airport

C ben-David